Burrow fractal dimension and foraging success in subterranean rodents: A simulation

S. C. Le Comber, E. W. Seabloom, S. S. Romañach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


For animals that forage underground, the success with which food items are located may be closely related to burrow architecture. Fractal dimension, which describes how a burrow explores the surrounding area in a way that is independent of burrow length, is an obvious choice for a single metric describing burrow shape. Although it is often assumed that burrows of high fractal dimension will be associated with greater foraging success, this has not previously been demonstrated. In this study, we use computer simulations to study the success with which burrows of different fractal dimensions locate randomly distributed food items. In addition, we examine the effect of different patterns of food distribution (in particular the patchiness with which food items are distributed) and consider how using different criteria for locating food items affects the relationship between fractal dimension and foraging success. We conclude that, under a wide range of plausible assumptions about the ways in which subterranean rodents forage, burrows of high fractal dimension are more successful at locating food items than burrows of lower fractal dimension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-195
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Burrow architecture
  • Computer model
  • Food distribution
  • Food patchiness
  • Shape


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